Examine Shakespeare's Dramatic Methods in Creating Cleopatra as a Complex Character for the Jacobean Audience and Consider to What Extent You Feel That Characterization Can Engage an Audience of the Present Day.

2164 Words9 Pages
Cleopatra is not only the Queen of Egypt but the personification of Egypt itself. She symbolizes everything that Caesar and the Romans have deprived themselves of, such as sexual desires, fun and delight. Even when absent from stage, her presence is felt. From the opening speech of the play we learn a great deal about her. Cleopatra's character is constantly being questioned throughout the play and we never are able to fully grasp her nature. During the Jacobean period, the people would have had many preconceptions about the characters of Antony and Cleopatra, and Shakespeare plays with these to shock the audience. Even today, the same methods are used as many people are familiar with the historical story. What Shakespeare has done, is to romanticize the story and include numerous stimulating and exciting twists. At the beginning of the play, we get an introduction which fulfills the audience's previous views of Cleopatra. Philo explains, "Nay but this dotage of our general's o'er flows the measure," and "to cool a gipsy's lust" lull the audience into a false sense of security before severely disrupting it and playing with their ability to make judgments. The juxtaposition of scenes contributes a significant amount to the complexity of Cleopatra's character. Also the combination of love and war is tightly knitted together to form an interesting contrast. The dramatic form reflects the chief thematic concerns of the play. By running the very liberal and free Egyptian scenes, alongside the rigid, manly scenes of Rome, we begin to see how opposing each side. Rome is almost always in a serious mode, yet Egypt is always partying and having fun. We can relate these two descriptions to Caesar and Cleopatra who each epitomize their countries. Shakespeare brings us suddenly from Act 3: Scene 2, where Caesar hands over Octavia to Antony in a very
Open Document